Album: Crossing Dragon Bridge
. . .
After his “desert trilogy” — three albums full of his trademark noisy rock — Steve Wynn took a hard left turn at Albuquerque and ended up in Ljubljana, Slovenia, where he spent three weeks making a record with producer Chris Eckman. After decades of recording with a band, the basic tracks were all Wynn, who played guitars, bass, whatever he thought made sense.
And while, later Eckman would add choirs and orchestras to some song, as well as some overdubs from some of the same folks you’d expect on a Wynn record, like Linda Pitmon & Chris Cacavas, the end result is unlike anything in his catalog. While some of it was either a bit too little or a bit too much, Wynn’s tale of teenage love, “Annie & Me,” totally hit my sweet spot.
Annie and me, as far as we can see
We’re not taking any bets, just playing the house
Slashing the tires on the restrictive ride that
Keeps us in the lanes between the lanes
We just never slow down
It doesn’t even hurt when we hit the ground
We don’t slow down for anyone
Who says it’s so hard when when you get old
Driven by a roiling acoustic guitar and a kickdrum, along with some random handclaps(!) and a cool guitar solo that was clearly recorded straight into the board, “Annie & Me” chugs and choogles along at a nice clip for long enough — and features a nearly tossed-off “Love is the drug for the Young Americans” that sets it squarely in the mid-1970s — that you’re surprised when you hit the bridge, which slows down, and adds the orchestra like they’re channeling Big Star’s Third as Wynn sings about the futility of mourning the past.
Trying not to let go of the feeling
But something always gets in the way
Like dreams that fall through the cracks
And friends who will never come back
And all of the strangers you see
And just how cruel they can be
And it’s so hard to get by sometimes
It’s just so hard to get by
And just as “Annie & Me” hits its lowest point, it remembers that it’s an uptempo song, and kicks right back into its fun, stomping groove, but stands as a great example that when Wynn strays from his main muse, he can still makes some great music.
Since Crossing Dragon Bridge, Wynn has made just one solo album, 2010’s Northern Aggression (I was going to write about “Colored Lights” from that album, but decided that it was too much like “No Tomorrow,”), but it’s not like he hasn’t been recording steadily, he’s recorded four albums with The Baseball Project (if you count Broadside Ballads, which I do) from 2008-2014 — and supposedly, there’s another on one the way — and starting in 2017, four albums with the reconstituted Dream Syndicate, all of which have been great. So who knows what’s next? No matter what it is, I’ll be listening.
“Annie & Me”
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